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I am so discouraged

MacBasics MacBasics (New) New

Hey guys,

I am a male nurse in my late 20s. I used to work as an allied health professional for about 8 years, wasn't entirely satisfied with my career choice, and decided to make the jump to nursing. I am seriously starting to reconsider my decision.

My first job as an RN was in ER. I lasted 9 days. I just couldn't handle the stress and the harassment/verbal violence from patients & their families. Not to mention that the unit was crazy busy all the time and that most new nurses didn't take their breaks.

My second job was on an orthopaedic floor. I found the job itself to be terrible. 6 patients assigned to you on any shift, with only 1 aid for 34 beds to help. 75% of the work was very basic care (passing bedpans, changing diapers, getting patients out of bed, etc...). Expectations for us from management were set quite high, however, our ressources appeared to diminish day-by-day. Despite the fact that the job sucked, I actually liked my team a lot. They were young, motivated and full of life. I ended up leaving after 1 year because I couldn't stand the work anymore, and my back was killing me.

My 3rd job was in a med-surg ICU. At first, during the training and the orientation, I was very stressed and insecure (but who wouldn't be, right?). However, as time continued, I never felt like I was becoming any more competent at what I was doing. I felt ill-prepared for emergency situations. I also found that the team was very divided, there are quite a few cliques. Therefore, I couldn't rely 100% on all my co-workers for help. I continued to work under these circumstances for several months, months in which I have encountered some very difficult and traumatic situations. On several occasions, I have left the workplace feeling extremely upset at the fact that I wasn't able to perform and deliver the way I should have

My health situation started to worsen in November of 2014. At this point, I started to suffer from Insomnia. I went to see my GP, he prescribed me some medications, and I returned to work. I kept working in ICU up until the month of January. After 2-3 weeks of terrible patient assignments, I eventually cracked and had a nervous breakdown. I went to my car in the parking lot and cried for an hour. I drove myself home that night, and I don't remember exactly how I got back home.

So now I am off work, I am seeing a counsellor, I am being medicated, I am doing everything that I can to get better. But I still cannot see myself returning to ICU at this time. In fact, I don't know if I'll ever be able to go work in a hospital ever again.

I have a great deal of difficult pin-pointing exactly "what went wrong". In my previous career as an allied-health professional, I have dealt with extremely stressful situation, and yet, I have managed to do that for 8 years. How could I have done a burnout after only 2 yrs of nursing. Is it me or is the job?

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych.

Hi, Mac, and welcome to Allnurses! We are glad you're here.

You have my sympathies. I've had a couple of on-the-job nervous breakdowns myself, so I can relate all too easily. I used to think it was just the job, but as time passed I realized that part of it was me, and part of it was the job. My last hospital job ended rather dramatically when I had a meltdown right in my nurse-manager's office; I'd been there only a little less than three years but I'd become completely burned out. I just knew that I couldn't go out there on that floor one. more. time. and I didn't.

I hope your situation doesn't go that far. I'm glad you're getting counseling and medication. But are you also eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising? How about meditation/relaxation? If you're not utilizing some or all of those things, you're missing out on some good, cheap "treatments". I find that sleep is absolutely crucial to maintaining my sanity; I go to bed and get up at the same times every day, even on weekends, and it's amazing how much of an impact it's had on my mental health. (Regrettably, I don't work as a nurse anymore because I have a medical condition that made it impossible to continue.)

But it's the job as well. I can't even imagine what it's like to work in acute care these days, with the ratios and the acuity being what they are. Not everyone is suited for hospital work; you may want to consider other types of nursing jobs, like clinic nursing or case management or even long-term care. I don't think you're burned out, I think you're in the wrong kind of job, and that maybe a change of pace would keep you in the profession. We haven't a nurse to waste!

Best of luck to you in whatever you choose to do. We're here to listen. Take care.

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care.

It's probably the job. Not everyone is cut out for ICU. You may do better on a step down unit, cardiac tele for instance where the patients are transferred to ICU if they are unstable. Nursing is a very stressful job for most people I think. I bet you didn't have these troubles in your prior job. I dealt with anxiety as a new nurse, never had that problem in any other job. It can be overcome counseling and meds will help you and just getting experience as you learn and know more. But I think maybe you aren't suited to ICU and that is ok. Ortho is a very physically heavy job, maybe try other areas of nursing, as some are better than others.

Lev, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency - CEN.

Have you considered PACU or preop/surgical prep? Or try to find a med-surg unit with better ratios.

Hello. Would you mind saying exactly what you used to do? PT? OT? RT? Anyways, it might well be that nursing pulls you in more directions, making it more demanding and stressful. Maybe if you can find a slower paced or more focused area of nursing that will be better.

First, I am so glad you are getting help and continuing to take care of yourself.

Secondly, I understand COMPLETELY where you are coming from and what you are experiencing..I am older than you, have been an RN a lot longer but I recently returned to bedside nursing and am EXTREMELY unhappy that I did. I too recently started medication for reasons similar to yours. MANY nurses on here have as well. I am actively seeking other employment tho' I have been on this job less than 3 months. I am not new to this area of nursing nor the hospital I work at - I was last there in 2008-2009 but the changes since then are...unbelievable. I have NEVER felt like this about any other job I've had in the past..like you, I sit in the parking lot, tearful and seriously considering not going in - but I have a mortgage and there is no choice for me right now. I can tell you, as other long term nurses on here can attest, that orientation to positions, nursing and healthcare over all has changed dramatically in the past 15 yrs or so. I would not go back into nursing now nor encourage anyone else to go into nursing.

My advice is to look for something outside the hospital - home health, hospice, MD office, school nursing...or, if possible, go back to what you were doing before becoming a nurse if it were easier to handle.

You are not alone in how you are feeling or experiencing tho' I know that probably doesn't help you much but my unsolicited advice is while you are off on medical leave look for something else so you aren't faced w/having to go back to the ICU position at all. You can simply tell a future employer that you realized that flavor of nursing is not best suited for your talents and long term goals.

Good luck.


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